Refusenik registrars soon to be history

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Parliament wants to get rid of all 'refusenik' registrars, civil servants who refuse to perform same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs.

National daily reports that a broad majority in parliament is in favour of amending the law to make it impossible for registrars to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Only last year the conservative VVD was still opposed to such an amendment because it did not want to offend its coalition partner, the Christian democratic CDA, and could not afford to lose the support of the orthodox SGP. However, now that the cabinet has fallen, the VVD is free to do as it pleases.

Outgoing Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies CDA is opposed to banning refusenik registrars because she believes civil servants have the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples. Ms Spies says that conscientious objectors are a minority just like gay people, and should therefore enjoy the same level of protection.

The council of state, the highest government advisory body, shares the minister’s point of view. The council argues for a pragmatic approach. The Netherlands has 48 local councils with refusenik registrars, but there have been no cases in which same-sex couples were unable to get married. There was always a fellow registrar willing to take over from their refusenik colleague.

Parliament is scheduled to hold a debate on the issue later this week.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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